David Niall Wilson is the owner and Editor in Chief at Crossroad Press, one of the largest independent publishers currently on the market. He's also the author of 150 short stories, 32 anthology entries, and over a dozen novels. David has written novels for Vampire: The Dark Ages, Star Trek: Voyager, Stargate SG-1, and is a Bram Stoker winner. We're very lucky to have him talk with us here.
"Why don't I have sales", "What did I do wrong" and "What am I supposed to do when the time comes" are just some of the questions I've been asked from authors regarding the art (and desirable success) of self-publishing. Although I've been more than happy to answer those questions, I found it easier to write an article so I'll be able to redirect them here in the future.
You've written a book but you have no idea what to do next? Simply follow these instructions. Or don't. I'm a guide, not a cop.
No matter how good and consistent your story is, you will need a second opinion. Find a couple of experienced beta-readers, send the first draft along, and let them give you feedback on what works and what doesn't. A spreadsheet where the beta-readers will be able to rate each chapter individually on characters, plot, pace etc is a nice touch. Note: Don't pick your friends for this kind of work. You don't need encouraging, you need constructive criticism.
You have a Bachelor in English Language and Literature. That's awesome. You will still need an editor. There are plenty of talented editors out there like Tim Marquitz, Laura M Hughes and Sarah Chorn. Hire them. Let them proof read, line and copy edit your manuscript. You won't regret it.
You had to buy a ISBN number, pay a fee to print Hardcovers on Ingramspark, and hire an Editor on top of that, so you simply can't afford an illustrator for your cover. A stock photo will have to do, right? The answer is no. Wait another year if you have to, save money, and hire a talented artist. It doesn't matter how awesome your story is, it simply won't sell without a good cover. John Anthony Di Giovanni, Jason Deem, Felix Ortiz and Amir Zand are just four of the hundreds of talented artists that you can find in the wild. It will make your book a thousand times better.
Oh shit, I have to pay again? Yes you have, and it doesn't end here, so just keep reading or quit. The cover will be responsible for a large proportion of your sales, but it's not just an illustrator's job. You will need professional designer as well. I only know Shawn King for this job, and I really have to look no further, because he's as great as it gets.
Your book is ready for publication, but are *you* ready to publish it? Of course not. Οne of the most important steps to a successful publication is the correct distribution of Advance Reading Copies, and for that reason I'll split them into 3 categories:
Community members: To get people to notice your book, you need to start the so called hype. At least 3 months before publication date, you will distribute ARCs (e-copies will have to do) to people who might not be popular reviewers, but their opinion holds weight in their communities. A name out of my head is Julia Kitvaria Sarene. If she likes your book she will recommend it when it's suitable. If she loves it, she will rave about it. I've added countless of books on my TBR thanks to Julia, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Reviewers & Authors: A couple of months before the book is out, you will have to send ARCs to those who have a huge following. People like Mark Lawrence, Jaime Tivendale and Petrik Leo can make you popular on their own. This time though you will need paper ARCs. Electronical copies (and some times simple paperbacks) means nothing to them; they can buy that on their own. A rare and limited print ARC is what reviewers live for. Make their day, and they will make yours.
Booksellers: Most of the readers nowadays buy their books online, and they trust their reviewers on what to read next. Still, a huge proportion still visits the old traditional bookstores. A single bookseller on Waterstones can sell as many of your copies as every reviewer combined.
The first reviews are in, and they're bound to have some awesome quotes in there. Use them on your social media and on the back cover of your book. The correct selection of a blurb is a combination of wording and politics. You will need a quote that shows your book for what it is, not what you want it to be (eg 'a promising debut' instead of 'in a par with GRRM') from someone who has a big following, and a quote not from someone who gives you a meaningless title (eg THE DEBUT OF THE YEAR) but from someone who has done everything in his power to help you and is bound to do the same when your next book is out.
Your book is out, but you are not ready to go. The final step to a successful publication is advertisement, and there are two types of it. The one that you have to pay for, and the one that you don't.
Free Advertisement: There's an important number of book-related communities out there (For fantasy see: Fantasy Faction, Grimdark Fiction, Fantasy Buffet and /r/Fantasy) that can bring you hundreds of fans. Join the conversations, let the community members to know you, become friends with them, but don't advertise your book. If they like you, and if your book deserves it, they will do it for you).
Paying Advertisement: Buy ads. Yup, simple as that. Facebook, Amazon, or book-related sites like Tor.com and BookNest.eu can host ads for you. Ask other authors, see what works, and use it.
Giveaways: Do them your own (fb page, author website, goodreads etc) or have a blog (BookNest, Fantasy Faction, Fantasy Book Review, Fantasy Book Critic) to do them for you. Subconscious is a powerful thing. If people keep seeing your book they will register its title and its cover, and when they come across it on amazon or in a bookstore, there's a high chance they will buy it.
Special Edition: A limited, signed and numbered edition of your book is a nice touch. It doesn't cost anything extra, and there are a lot of collectors out there.
Date of publication: Ask an experienced self-published author (eg Ben Galley) when to publish your book. Yes, the date counts. If you publish it on December, don't expect any sales - people save their money for the holidays.
Goodreads: A powerful tool for all authors. Learn how to use it.
Now you are ready to go. These steps can help you immensely, but they don't mean a guaranteed success. There's still a high chance that you will be unlucky, or, who knows, your book might simply be shite. You will never know until you try.
PS. I've had to write this article twice due to a power outage (a lesson to be learned here) and I was really tired the second time around, so there's a high chance I've forgotten something important. If something comes to mind I'll add it later, or if you think something's missing, feel free to write it in the comments.
Here on BookNest we decided to celebrate one of the best years for Fantasy by giving away 18 (!) fantasy books that were published (or are due to be published) in 2017.
To enter you have but to follow one of these two easy steps:
01) Like, Share or Comment on our Facebook post.
02) Comment here with the same name as your facebook account.
The Giveaway closes on 31st July 2017. On the following day we will randomly select 6 lucky winners, each one of them winning 3 different books. Best of luck to all of you!
The Giveaway is over! The lucky winners are:
Georgia May Goodall
Bane and Shadow
Sins of Empire
Kings of the Wyld
The Court of Broken Knives
The Heart of Stone
Farmaan Khan Mansuri
Age of Assassins
The Legion of Flame
Evil is a Matter of Perspective
Swarm and Steel
If you commented/shared/liked on facebook, then you should contact us on our facebook page with your personal info.
The winners have 14 days to contact us - any books that won't be claimed until then will be offered as prizes in the next Giveaway.
Mankind has always been fascinated by fire. The most spectacular and intangible of the four elements, fire holds an unmatched allure. From Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and crafting, to Kagus-tscuchi, the Japanese blacksmith god, to Logi, the Norse fire giant, fire and smithing have been worshipped and deified in almost every culture on earth.
It seems that our obsession with fire is almost hard-wired into us, a part of our genetic memory. After all, for millennia fire has been essential to our survival. Even today we use fire to cook, to heat our homes, and in various forms, to make power. Is it any wonder that we have sought to tame this strange power?We've been obsessed with fire since Prometheus got nicked for petty larceny.
Fire and flame are deeply entrenched in the fantasy genre. It doesn't take an arduous search to find fire-breathing dragons, or wizards hurling fireballs. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings gave us dragons and wizards both, and a balrog as a bonus.
The netherworld gives us devils and other fire-demons. There are myriad heroes wielding flaming swords, though David Eddings might be argued to have done it best, or maybe that's just my nostalgia talking.
It's no great surprise that it is so prevalent in fantasy; fire is rife throughout classical mythology, and can be found in myths stretching from Mexico to the Norse sagas. There are flaming swords in the Bible, and, when you get right down to it, the largest religions on our planet owe their existence to an old man having a conversation with a smouldering shrub.
One major difference is that mythology would have us worship and venerate fire whilst books within the fantasy genre tend to tell tales of fire having been tamed. Not in any traditional sense, with cooking or heating, but by truly controlling it. By harnessing its raw nature; somehow yoking the primal heart of it with shields formed of flame and spells woven from fire.
Blacksmithing is one example of this level of control, and perhaps a point where fantasy touches reality. In many ways smithing is the act of applying the power of flame to, quite literally, shape the bones of the earth. Smithing tames the very elements, bending them to our will.
My latest novel, Faithless, was an attempt to marry these two concepts, the allure of flame and mankind's need to shape and control, whilst also examining the notion of religion as a whole. It is a dark book, and I make no apology for that. Fundamentally it's the search for the truth of a religion, lying hidden beneath centuries of dogma.
Smithing features heavily in the book, as you would expect in a religion devoted to fire and forging, and I've worked hard to both keep as close to reality as possible whilst instilling a sense of wonder and mystery to the mundane.
“Now,” he told Brial without taking his eyes from the molten iron. “Fetch those tongs and reach this out for us.” He stepped back to allow Brial access and continued speaking. “You can stop now, Wynn. Come and see this. Note how the iron has taken on the colour and aspect of the flame? The heat and the power of the Father has infused the metal and now, with care, we can shape it as we will...”
There is a sense of lost grandeur, of a golden past and paradise lost, as the Forgefather has turned his face from mankind and prayers whisper unanswered into the darkness.
“Through the power of the Forgefather we created wonders this world hasn’t seen the like of since. It’s said we could spin wire thinner than a human hair, but with the strength of anchor chains. We offered up our own blood to the forges and the Father blessed them himself. His was the voice in the fire. Even those who didn’t follow the faith could hear it.”
Faithless is also about the darker side of human nature, about jealousy, and cowardice, and spite. More than anything it is about the lengths we will go to when pushed, when it comes down to you or them, and nobody is there to witness your actions except your conscience. Faithless is out now and available from Amazon I hope you'll join me for the ride.
Godblind is set to be one of the biggest fantasy debuts of 2017. Petros reviewed it here on Booknest, calling it GDAF ‘as grimdark as it gets’ and ‘may as well be the very first novel classified as such.’ And in my review, I said, that after reading it I felt like I’d gone ‘12 rounds with a grimdark heavyweight, not a debut tyro. I hurt, I’m tired, I’m scared, I want a hug – but I want more!’
To celebrate the release of Godblind by Anna Stephens we are offering 6 (!) hardcovers in a worldwide giveaway(2 parts)!
The first part (with 3 HC) takes place right here. The only thing that you have to do is comment on this post, sharing your thought about the book, Anna, BookNest, or whatever else comes in mind!
The second part (the rest 3 HC) takes place on our fb page. You can find all about it HERE.
The giveaway end on Wednesday, 21st of June, and the 6 lucky winners will be selected and announced on the following day.
Thanks for taking part!
UPDATE: The Giveaway is over! The three lucky winners are: George Evans, Londaya and Jax! Please use the contact form to give us your personal info (address etc). Thanks for joining!
One of the best parts about being an editor is getting in on the ground floor when an author is working on something truly, absolutely groundbreaking. It’s so exhilarating to be part of something someone so talented has created.
"I’d examine interpersonal relationships from another angle and I wouldn’t confine it to love and romance. Maybe I’d explore it after a “loving” relationship crashed and burned, and one or both was killed in the aftermath enough for them to see if it had really been worth it spending the last few years of their physical existence chained to each other in a dance of human misery and/or a plateau of soul-killing compromise."
-Chris Avellone, on how he'd write his ideal romance in Pillars of Eternity